In the 1970s and 80s, comic book fans could buy official Marvel Superhero Trump Cards which sought to answer the question ‘who is the most powerful superhero of all?’ This movie answers that question in emphatic fashion and has little respect for the traditional card game rules. Comic book fans dismayed by how cinema has rebranded Superhero Trump Card power may still have to accept that Thanos could probably beat Silver Surfer and Galactus (the two most powerful superheroes) together, even though they’re not in this movie. This is a given, based on the way he scythes through 76 of the best superheroes combined. And that’s even before he gets his hands on all five infinity stones which will give him the power of a God. It seems there’s no place else for comic book movies to go if he succeeds in retrieving all of them so you can understand the concerns of the Avengers who try everything to prevent this from happening.
You’ll need your best against a villain so mountainous, and without the indomitable Silver Surfer or Galactus to call upon in this Disney franchise they throw Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) at him. But the not so jolly green giant puts in a pitiful performance against the mighty Thanos and is brushed aside like a fly in the very first scene. Thor the Thunder God (Chris Hemsworth) refuses to back down in the face of this terrifying power when Thanos lands uninvited on his ship in these opening scenes and pursues Thanos relentlessly, leading the charge of the Avengers. Referring again to the Superhero Trump Cards, Thor and Hulk are meant to be almost as mighty as Silver Surfer and Galactus yet once Hulk’s brute strength is left wanting it’s down to Thor to come up with a more strategic approach to bringing down this alien giant intent on wiping out half the Universe. And, phew! directors Joe and Anthony Russo suddenly have a tent pole classic on their hands. Expect the Star Wars franchise to surrender their record-breaking box office rankings with a whimper.
Thanos is, no doubt, modelled on many a deluded despot who believes their actions are ultimately moral and for the greater good no matter how ruthless their methods. 15th-century philosopher Machiavelli once spelt out in his military treatise The Art of War that the ends justifies the means and Thanos lives by this. In his mind, if half of the population of the Universe needs to be culled so that the other half can live more abundantly and environmentally sound, then so be it. No one has the guts to ask him ‘what makes it his business?‘ And he doesn’t look like the listening type.
The warriors of Wakanda, from box office hit Black Panther, are on hand to join forces in a last ditched attempt to halt Thanos’s rampage but not even an army puts Thanos out of stride. Not when he has a gemstone that can turn back time with the ease of resetting an alarm clock. Each one of these gems has some pretty amazing tricks not least the ability to get all malleable with matter and turn your greatest foes into Fairy Liquid bubbles. Hmm… I bet you’re thinking this guy will take some beating. Understatement. Two hours and 40 mins worth of non-stop Marvel onslaught with Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) notable amongst the superheroes who come close to handing Thanos his pride (if not his ass) on a plate through trickery and combat excellence. But somehow you get the feeling Thanos is just playing with them in the same way a lion toys with a gazelle before moving in for the kill.
The wonders of their super powers and wizardry of the special effects mean you’re too consumed in this hi-tech, marathon punch up to ponder the lack of sufficient back story or empathetic subplot. Thanos’s character could have done with more info about his origins and with a ‘show’ rather than a ‘tell’ approach, in this respect. But it’s a superhero story after all. Just kick back and enjoy the best ever in the genre, one which answers the ultimate Trump Card question about the mightiest superhero of all. The record-breaking $257.6million opening weekend will testify their success in that department.